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American Front (AF) was a white power skinhead organization started in the mid 1980s in San Francisco, California by Bob Heick. It began as a loose organization modeled after the British National Front. Heick began working with Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR) in 1988. Heick and artist Boyd Rice posed for photos in AF uniforms for an article on neo-Nazism in Sassy magazine. Rice claims he was never really a member of the American Front, but that he was friends with Heick.[1]

Contents

History

In 1985, after years of associating with peers of all races, Bob Heick began writing and distributing leaflets, mostly from a nationalist anti-communist stance, in response to the increasing leftist influence in the local punk subculture. Originally intended as an umbrella organization for all American skinheads, AF had no formal structure or membership. In San Francisco, Heick lost favor with the mostly apolitical skinheads. Media attention and constant vandalism by the group brought increased attention from the local police. In addition, Heick's progression from patriotism to Nazism lost him many friends, and some people accused him of trying to take over the local skinhead scene. Heick then started associating with heavy metal music fans and rural white workers. He formed the short-lived group United White Brethren in the North and South Bay Areas.

Upon his return to San Francisco in 1987, Heick found the newer generation of local skinheads to be more receptive to Nazism. The AF transformed into a political organization, and its membership was no longer exclusively skinheads. On May 1, 1988, AF held its first White Workers Day march in San Francisco, in which 65 participants marched unopposed. This was heralded by Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance on his telephone hotline, in the WAR newspaper, and on TV. The AF tabloid Aryan Warrior was published soon after. Metzger began presenting Heick to the media as a spokesman for white power skinheads. Heick appeared on the TV news magazine The Reporters, in a segment that mainly focused on Heick and included footage of the Mayday march. AF was also featured in publications such as Rolling Stone, Hustler, and Sassy. By 1989, there were AF units in 14 American states.

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Aryan Woodstock

Heick started to organize a concert of white power bands in a small town in Northern California. Heick was pushed aside by Tom Metzger, and the concert became a White Aryan Resistance event instead of an AF event. Heick and Metzger disagreed on almost every facet of the festival, including the name, Aryan Woodstock. Heick disagreed with Metzger's promotion of the event on his phone hotline, because the it was monitored by anti-racist activists, and would give them time to organize against the event. A WAR activist was told by three bureaucrats that no permit would be required to play live music at a private event on private land, as long as sanitation was provided for.

During the two weeks leading up to Aryan Woodstock, the event was a leading local news story. The county sought an injunction to block the gathering, and Heick appeared before a judge to defend AF and WAR's right to assemble. The judge ruled that the gathering may take place, but that there could be no music. Approximately 300 people from across the United States arrived on the property before the landowner caved to police pressure and allowed the authorities to close off the entrance. This stranded many would-be attendees, some who had traveled great distances to be there. Several hundred protesters were outside the property. Tension between AF and WAR increased soon after. Heick spent the next year visiting various AF units in California and across the United States before getting married and settling down in Portland Oregon.

1990s and later

In 1990, Heick announced on the AF telephone hotline that the group would appear in San Francisco's Union Square on the first Saturday in May. The message ran for a month prior to the event. Opponents of the AF held a Mayday demonstration three days prior, on May 1. On the day of the AF event, Heick arrived with 10 men and three women, and marched into 300 missile-throwing protesters. Police descended upon the AF contingent and confiscated their wooden shields. Police were hit from both sides and made no attempt to separate the two groups. There were a few injuries.

In October 1990, The Coalition for Human Dignity published fliers featuring Heick's new home address in Portland, Oregon, and distributed press releases announcing his arrival. Local TV news crews arrived at Heick's apartment a few days after he moved in. Heick still received regular invitations to appear on national television, but many of the new offers were to appear on trash TV shows. Heick refused those offers, restricting his interviews to genuine news programs. As press interest in Heick and AF waned, Heick focused on local activism. AF's 1991 May Day demonstration was held in Portland. There was a large counterprotest, but no violence. In 1992, Heick and AF associates were the first out-of-state activists to arrive at the Randy Weaver stand-off at Ruby Ridge. Heick blockaded a fuel truck and lambasted the driver for supporting the government.

Around this time, AF focused on demonstrations and literature distribution. The group's telephone hotline was revived in Portland and remained active until Heick left the group in 1995. In the 1990s, the Washington and California AF sections published The Voice of Revolution magazine, which had strong ties to Combat 18 in England. In New York, Jim Porazzo published Greystorm. In Portland, Heick published Revolutionary Nationalist AF focused on opposing hate crime laws, which they claimed only targeted whites. AF became known for harassing Portland city commissioner Mike Lindberg, who called the group "gay bashing skinheads" in the press. The Albany, Oregon area AF unit held regular demonstrations. AF briefly resurfaced under the leadership of Porazzo, who moved the group to Harrison, Arkansas and began to promote Third Positionism.

In the early 2000s, AF was no longer active, except for a few activists who functioned only on the Internet. All of the group's websites and contact addresses have since disappeared. David Lynch became the new leader in 2002, and the group dropped its Third Positionist rhetoric, returning to its earlier racist politics. Lynch has been communicating with different hate groups across California and the United States, in an attempt to bring together rival groups. [2]

References

  1. ^ http://www.boydrice.com/interviews/tangents.html
  2. ^ "American Front: The Sequel" Holthouse, David. Intelligence Report. Summer 2007.

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